Archive for Sunday, July 1, 2007

State pheasant numbers down

Survey show negative impact of drought

July 1, 2007


Results of the Wildlife and Parks spring crowing survery show a sharp decrease in the state's pheasant population.

Rangewide, the survey index was 14.3 crows per station, down 32 percent from 2006. Overall, 47 of the 50 comparable routes decreased this year.

However, the survey does not necessarily mean a poor pheasant season this fall, according to state biologist Randy Rodgers.

"The sharp declines in this spring's breeding population reflect the strong negative impact of the statewide drought on last year's pheasant production," Rodgers said. "Nevertheless, with the projected timing of wheat harvest about two weeks later than normal, pheasant production prospects look very good."

Wildlife and Parks conducts its pheasant crowing survey each spring. As the mating season approaches, roosters increase crowing, and state staffers drive routes, stopping at established stations to listen for the birds.

Data from this survey, combined with the summer brood count survey in August, helps determine the fall outlook. A wet spring made surveying difficult, but may spell good news for nesting birds.

This year's survey period was April 25 through May 22, seven days later than normal due to muddy or impassible roads in much of the central part of the state. Sixty-one of 63 established routes were assigned for 2007, and 55 were run.

Flooding prevented completion of several routes. Fifty of the routes were completed in both 2006 and 2007 by the same observers, providing statistical consistency to the survey.

In northcentral Kansas, 10 of 12 routes were run, yielding an average of 9.7 crows per station, a 41 percent decrease from last year. All 10 routes were run by last year's observers. One route increased, and nine decreased. The Russell County route was permanently dropped this year because of oil pump noise, and a new Ellsworth County route was added.

In the northeast, nine of the 10 routes were run, seven by 2006 observers. All of the seven comparable survey routes decreased, and the overall crow count decrease was 46 percent.

The changes in the PCS index demonstrate the relative importance of spring and summer conditions as compared to winter conditions for Kansas pheasants. Last year was one of the driest spring and summer reproductive periods on record. Further exacerbating the situation was the approximately two-week period in July when temperatures daily reached 100 to 110 degrees.


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